05/28/2011: "San Juan Island Distillery Opens"
Just in time for summer, the San Juan Islands’ new -and only- distillery is opening its doors in grand style
Join the celebratory weekend featuring tastings of all of their products near the apple trees of the island’s long-standing ciderworks, Westcott Bay Cider.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, the distillery will be open on Saturday and Sunday on Memorial Day weekend from 1 to 5 pm for tastings of Gin, Apple Eau de Vie and Cider at 12 Anderson Lane (near Roche Harbor -see map below)
Although the distillery’s tasting room is only just opening, the Spy Hop Gin Harvest Select and Apple Eau de Vie are already causing a stir. Just last month, the Apple Eau de Vie took gold at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition, and bronze at the judging of the Annual American Distilling Institute. Although it hasn’t been entered into any competitions yet, the distillery’s Spy Hop Gin Harvest Select has caught the attention of the area’s top local chefs through private tastings.
"I am really looking forward to our Apple Harvest dinner this October featuring a menu inspired by and paired with the San Juan Island Distillery Spirits,” said J. Alphonsine Haslet-Phillips, Executive Chef, Coho Restaurant. “Their gin, eau de vie and ciders are all lovely, and demonstrate the passion and care that Suzy, Hawk and Rich have for craft spirits. On a recent tour, I was able to see the where the apples are grown and the spirits are crafted. I was impressed by the beauty of the place and their devotion to the process of creating their unique products.”
Nestled near the shores of Westcott Bay, just around the bend from Roche Harbor, the distillery is tapping into the flavors that make the island so unique. Both Apple Eau de Vie and the Spy Hop Gin Harvest Select begin with Cider from Westcott Bay, but then get their individual qualities from locally foraged island botanicals such as blackberries, madrone bark, rosehips, and lavender.
The Ciders are already available at island groceries and at many stores in the Seattle area, but the Spy Hop Gin Harvest Select and Apple Eau de Vie can only be purchased at the distillery or through the Friday Harbor state liquor store.
About San Juan Island Distillery and Westcott Bay Cider
It all begins with the apples. Grown and then harvested by hand in our beautiful orchard on Westcott Bay, over a dozen varieties of antique apples are washed and pressed into our award-winning Westcott Bay Cider. Our products include:
• Spy Hop Gin Harvest Select: As graceful and energetic as the spy hop (a vertical jump to look around) of our Island's resident orca whales, our Gin begins not with neutral grains but instead with our award-winning Westcott Bay Cider. Using a copper alembic pot still, we combine our crystal-clear distillate with juniper and selected botanicals, including San Juan barks and berries. Here's a Gin to change your ideas of what Gin can be.
• Apple Eau de Vie: An intense statement of a beautiful place. Cider apples become award-winning Westcott Bay Cider, and are distilled in our small copper alembic pot still. We carefully remove the harshest flavors, preserving only the aromatic, flavorful hearts of our crystal clear distillate to produce this delicious Apple Eau de Vie. Some of our Eau de Vie goes into barrels and becomes a Calvados-like apple brandy in a few years.
• Westcott Bay Ciders: Our hard Ciders are made from Cider apples grown here on Westcott Bay. This prize-winning traditional English Cider is crisp, clean, refreshing and low in alcohol. We do everything by hand -picking the apples, washing and pressing them, fermenting the juice into Cider in stainless tanks, and bottling. It is truly a local artisan business.